Reflections on Two Days in Bangkok

Blog post by Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA; Chief Executive, ICCO

Looking back in a few years’ time, May 17th and 18th 2017 might just –hopefully- be seen as the dates when AVEs finally received notice of their dismissal from our industry. Because the AMEC event in Bangkok was something special.

This was my fourth AMEC Global Summit, and I detected a different tone to its predecessors. There’s more determination to eradicate AVEs; more frustration that we are even discussing them still; more conviction that if PR practitioners and measurement and evaluation experts work together, we can indeed achieve something worthwhile.

Richard Bagnall, AMEC’s new Chairman, set the tone right from the beginning, with his announcement of ‘AMEC in global drive for final eradication of AVEs’, a renewed commitment by the AMEC Board to finish the job begun so many years ago.

But like all good intentions, actions are also needed. And I think we agreed on a good many of them.

Here’s what ICCO and the PRCA announced:

 A new guide to evaluation, co-authored alongside AMEC

That guide to include an evaluation charter that both PR practitioners and their evaluation equivalents commit to. And my suggestion is that line one within in would be that PR professionals won’t ask for AVEs; and that evaluation professionals won’t offer them

A joint conference in London, timed to coincide with Evaluation Month, holding us to the commitments made here in Bangkok, and bringing together both industries

The exclusion from the ICCO Global Awards of any campaign that uses AVEs

Taken together, I think that this package will comprise a major step forward for our two industries. And in particular, I believe that our final commitment will have impact. It means that if you want your work to be recognised as truly world standard, then you have to abandon the flawed metrics of the past. Or you can stick with AVEs, and be literally a loser.

 Concluding my comments announcing all of these measures, I made two observations. First, that we owe a great deal to Barry Leggetter. His dedicated and inspirational leadership has put evaluation where it rightfully belongs –at the heart of our industry. Secondly, the challenges we face will be addressed only if we work together in our common interests. PR practitioners working alone isn’t enough; evaluation specialists working alone isn’t enough either. We can talk to ourselves and feel a little better for doing so. But the results will be minimal. Working together however, we can achieve great things. And one of those things will be to hasten the death of AVEs.